This is a recording of the keynote talk by chef Rick Bayless at the 2009 Chicago Food Policy Summit. It was held on April 8, 2009 at the Chicago Cultural Center. One of Rick's passions continues to be the advancement of live, local living foods. This talk describes that more than two decade passion. Rick started his talk with how he became interested in local, living foods and explains how they offer him the edge in his restaurant and the lengths he takes to support local farmers and have his assistant chefs learn about quality farming methods.
Rick is an award-winning chef-restaurateur, cookbook author, and television personality who has done more than any other culinary leader to introduce Americans to authentic Mexican cuisine and to change the image of Mexican food. Rick is the fourth generation of an Oklahoma family of restaurateurs and grocers. Having begun his culinary training as a youth, he broadened his interests to include regional Mexican cooking as an undergraduate student of Spanish and Latin American culture.
From 1980 to 1986 Rick Bayless did doctoral work in Anthropological Linguistics with the University of Michigan in Mexico with his wife, Deann. He ended up writing his now-classic "Authentic Mexican: Regional Cooking From The Heart of Mexico" (William Morrow, 1987). The New York Times' legendary Craig Claiborne hailed this work as the "greatest contribution to the Mexican table imaginable."
In that same year of 1987, Rick having moved to Chicago opened the hugely successful Frontera Grill at 445 N. Clark St., which specializes in contemporary regional Mexican cooking. Still today it remains one of Chicago's hottest dining spots. In 1988, Food & Wine magazine selected Rick as "Best New Chef of the Year," and in 1991, he won a James Beard Award for "Best American Chef: Midwest." In 1995, he won another James Beard Award for "National Chef of the Year" as well as an award for "Chef of the Year" from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). In 1998, the Beard Foundation honored Rick as "Humanitarian of the Year." In 2002, Bon Appetit honored him with the "Cooking Teacher of the Year Award".
On the heels of Frontera Grill's success, Rick opened the elegant Topolobampo in 1989. Adjacent to Frontera Grill, Topolobampo is one of America's only fine-dining Mexican restaurants. Frontera Grill and Topolobampo have received glowing distinctions from such publications as Gourmet, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Atlantic Monthly, Condé Nast Traveler, Holiday Travel, Zagat's, The Wine Spectator, USA Today, Chicago magazine and the Chicago Tribune. Topolobampo has been nominated twice by the James Beard Foundation as one of the most outstanding restaurants in our country.
In 1995, Rick began the prepared food line of salsas, chips, and grilling rubs under the Frontera Foods label.
In 1996, "Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen: Capturing the Vibrant Flavors of a World-Class Cuisine" (Scribner) won the IACP National Julia Child âCookbook of the Year Awardâ. The New York Times praised him as a writer who makes "true Mexican food user-friendly for Americans," and Time magazine hailed him as a "cookbook superstar." Rick's cookbook "Salsas That Cook" (Simon & Schuster), written with his wife, Deann, and JeanMarie Brownson, was published in 1999. At the 2001 James Beard Awards (the culinary equivalent of the Oscars), "Mexico â One Plate at a Time," (Scribner) companion to the first season of the Public Television series by the same name, was singled out as the "Best International Cookbook".
Rick resides in Chicago with his wife and daughter. With his wife he runs Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. He is on the board of Chef's Collaborative, a national group of chefs in support of environmentally sound agricultural practices, and has been active in Share Our Strength, the nation's largest hunger advocacy organization.
"Mexico â One Plate at a Time" is a popular book and PBS television series. Rick released a cookbook with his 13-year-old daughter, Lanie, which is entitled, "Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures" nominated for a James Beard Award. Rick's sixth cookbook, "Mexican Everyday" was just nominated for a James Beard Award in 2006.
Appreciation is expressed to the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and the technical staff at the Chicago Cultural Center whose help and cooperation in the control booth made this recording possible. The recording was made directly from the output from the sound board using a Sony minidisc MZ-b100 recorder.